Balik Scientist hopes to contribute to BSU institutional strengthening

As part of the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Balik Scientist Program, Benguet State University officials led by President Felipe Salaing Comila personally welcomed Balik Scientist Dr. Guillermo A. Mendoza on March 11, 2021. Dr. Mendoza is a professor emeritus of the Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois, USA.

“I was a Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) and a Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) scholar during my graduate program at the University of the Philippines Los Baños and I had a fellowship from the Philippines that enabled me to go to the University of Washington for my graduate program, there is a return-service required for the fellowship, but it has always been my desire to come back,” shared Dr. Guillermo during the welcome program.

“In general, there are two areas I hope to contribute to all the universities that I serve as a Balik Scientist, these are institutional strengthening and capacity building,” he added.

Dr. Guillermo has also contributed his knowledge to State Universities and College including Mariano Marcos State University and Isabela State University. His first engagement with BSU was on November 21, 2020, when he served as the resource speaker of the webinar on forest researches and community-based policies organized by the College of Forestry (CF) and the International Relations Office.

After the welcome program, Dr. Guillermo was the resource speaker of a five-day training on March 22-26, 2021 that introduced participants to remote sensing and its applications in agriculture, forestry, and natural resources. This was organized by the BSU-Center for Geoinformatics with participants coming from BSU, University of the Philippines-Baguio, and the Benguet Local Government Unit.

The training included lectures followed by hands-on exercises on remote sensing, defined as the process or science of obtaining information about objects or areas from a distance. The participants were briefed on preprocessing of images and remotely sensed data; platforms and sensors in remote sensing; image correction and enhancements; image interpretation/analysis; image classification methods and principles; and LiDAR platforms among others.

For. Nova D. Doyog, a CF faculty member who is on scholarship at the National Chiayi University in Taiwan also shared her knowledge and experiences in the application of remote sensing in the study “Monitoring of the Land-Use and Land Cover Fluctuation of Mt. Pulag through TimeSeries Sattelite Images for the Sustainability of the Key Biodiversity Area.” 

At the end of the training, Dr. Guillermo expressed his hopes for the participants.

“I hope that this is enough to motivate you to apply these technology tools in your areas of specialization. I am here to serve you at makipagbalikatan sa inyo (and to work with you) to be able to do more in the research and even in the publication arena para ma-improve natin ang visibility ng (so that we can improve the visibility of) BSU and other CARSUCs. I’m quite pleased that all of you survived it and nobody gave up despite these five days of intensive training. For some of you, this is new and for some, it is not but I hope that at the end of it all ay meron kayong na-retain na (you retained) skills that you could apply in your areas of specialization.”

BSU VP for Research and Extension, Dr. Romeo A. Gomez, Jr. acknowledged the efforts of Dr. Mendoza and the BSU-GIS in conducting the training.

“Indeed we are very lucky that we have Dr. Guillermo here as our Balik Scientist. I noticed that this is a very comprehensive training so we are thankful that we have a scientist coming to us, mentoring us, and helping us. Hopefully, this will translate to better research and extension and other activities that would contribute to the community and sustainable development,” Dr. Gomez said.

The Balik Scientist Program is institutionalized with RA 11035 or the Balik Scientist Act. The program aims to reverse the effect of the brain drain, strengthen S & T capabilities, accelerate the flow of technologies and promote knowledge sharing.//JSTabangcura